A Colder War

A Colder War
"A Colder War"
Author Charles Stross
Genre(s) Alternate history
Cthulhu Mythos
Published in Spectrum SF #3
Publication date July 2000

"A Colder War" is an English-language, alternate history novelette by Charles Stross written circa 1997.[1]

The story fuses the Cold War and the Cthulhu Mythos by exploring the consequences of a follow-up to the expedition in H. P. Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness.[2] Although the story has similarity to the later Stross novel The Atrocity Archives, they are set in different universes.[3] Teresa Nielsen Hayden describes the story on Making Light as "It’s the Oliver North/Guns for Hostages scandal, seen from the viewpoint of a CIA bureaucrat, in a universe in which the entire Cthulhu Mythos is real."[4]

It was one of Locus Online's 2000 'Recommended Reading' novelettes.[5]


Publication history

The story originally appeared in Spectrum SF #3 in 2000, being later reprinted in Gardner Dozois's The Year's Best Science Fiction #18 and in Stross' collections Toast: And Other Rusted Futures (in 2002) and Wireless (2009). In late 2011 it appeared in two Cthulhu-themed anthologies: The Book of Cthulhu by Night Shade Books (ISBN 1597802328)[6] and New Cthulhu: The Recent Weird by Prime Books (ISBN 1607012898).[7]

Plot synopsis

The Soviet Union has developed a superweapon called Project Koschei[8] for use against NATO. Located at Chernobyl, Koschei is based on captured Nazi Germany research into an underwater city in the Baltic Sea. The Soviets have also deployed smaller weapons called servitors, as found in the Kitab Al-Azif, in their occupation of Afghanistan.

Doing so violates the Dresden Agreement, a secret multinational treaty signed in 1931 after an expedition to a strange Antarctic plateau that appears on no maps. Even Adolf Hitler adhered to the treaty, which hides the existence of the supernatural entities from the public and prohibits their use in war.

The United States' countermeasures for Koschei include 300 megatons of nuclear weapons and a continuity of government base hundreds of light years from Earth. American research also indicates that all intelligent species that experiment with the entities exterminate themselves. Other nations emulate the superpowers; Iran and Israel plan a nuclear defense against Iraq's attempts to open a gate to the stars.

As a Congressional committee examines American cooperation with Iran's plans, the Soviets and their leader Yegor Ligachev unexpectedly overreact to a joke by President Reagan, with dire results.


  1. ^ http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2010/08/interview-1.html#comment-56920
  2. ^ "Stross has admitted 'A Colder War' is directly inspired by Lovecraft’s novel 'At The Mountains Of Madness'." --"Review of A Colder War by Charles Stross", SFFaudio
  3. ^ "The online story "A Colder War" is *not* part of the Bob Howard/Laundry series, but is an earlier short story along a similar vein, but far more serious (and deadly); there is no humor at all in this shorter story." From Marty Halper, Stross' editor on the relevant stories
  4. ^ http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/005550.html
  5. ^ http://www.locusmag.com/2000/Reviews/BestOf2000.html
  6. ^ "Lockhart, Ross E. - The Book of Cthulhu". Night Shade Books. http://www.nightshadebooks.com/cart.php?m=product_detail&p=201. 
  7. ^ "New Cthulhu: The Recent Weird edited by Paula Guran". Prime Books. http://www.prime-books.com/shop/trade-paperbacks/new-cthulhu-the-recent-weird-edited-by-paula-guran/. 
  8. ^ Koschei, called the Deathless, is the name of an evil immortal in Slavic mythology.

External links

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